Airlines for America, the trade group representing the interests of U.S. airlines, is predicting that 15.6 million travelers will fly during the Labor Day weekend (Wednesday, August 31 – Tuesday, September 6). That’s a 4 percent increase over last year’s 15 million Labor Day flyers.
According to A4A: “U.S. airlines are well positioned to meet the growing demand for air travel and are responding by increasing the number of seats available by 4 percent.”
So, a 4 percent increase in passengers, offset by a 4 percent in seat capacity. That means that this Labor Day’s load factors should be about the same as last year’s. Which means that planes will be flying more than 90 percent full on average, and closer to 100 percent full on more popular routes. That’s a sure-fire recipe for congestion and claustrophobia.
The busiest travel days will Friday, September 2, and Thursday, September 1, followed by Monday, September 5, and Tuesday, September 6.
And the busiest airports: Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
If you can travel on off days, from less congested airports, you stand a chance of minimizing the stress of holiday travel. Otherwise, be prepared for an extra-uncomfortable flight experience. Because Labor Day.
Reader Reality Check
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.